Emily Smith


We are delighted to hear that Emily and husband Jamie McLennan are expecting their first baby. Emily’s last gig (for a while) will be at the Kirkgate Centre in Cockermouth on the 22nd of this month. Baby is due to put in an appearance towards the end of April.

Her special anniversary album ‘Ten Years’ to mark my first decade as a folksinger is out now.  If you’d like to order yourself a copy you can do so at her record label website here: http://www.whitefallrecords.com/Store_TenYears.html

‘Ten Years’ features a selection of tracks from albums she’s released so far, new versions of some old favourites, three previously unreleased tracks and a couple of live tracks from performances over the last decade.

Congratulations to Emily and Jamie; we look forward to them performing again later in the year. In the meantime, here’s Emily singing The Final Trawl at Celtic Connections.


Britannia Coconut Dancers Win

In a follow up to our report at the beginning of February, we are delighted to announce that common sense has prevailed.

For the last 156 years the Britannia Coconut Dancers have blackened their faces and donned skirts for their annual dance through the Lancashire town of Bacup to ward off evil spirits in a tradition recalling the area’s mining history.

But the group, which has raised money for local charities and appeared in a string of television shows, ran into problems when Rossendale Council in Lancashire ordered it to pay £1,600 towards new safety measures.

Failure to pay would result in the cancellation of their Easter Saturday parade event, they were told.

Council officials asked the troupe to pay £600 to send three volunteers on a training course to use hand signals to control traffic, as well as £1,000 for road closures.

Previously police had put rolling road blocks in place.

After taking legal advice, the group refused to pay and vowed to proceed with the event with or without the co-operation of the local authorities.

Following a month-long stand-off, the authorities have now backed down.

Council officials agreed to pay for road closures in the form of local government grants, while Lancashire Police agreed to send officers to patrol the event.

Joe Healey, who has been secretary of the troupe known as the Nutters for 17 years, said: “We were intially told that although the police respected the tradition and community intentions of the event, it could not be policed due to cutbacks in officer numbers and financial restraints.

“After some struggle, we have accepted the conditions and discussed the particulars at length with police. No volunteers from the group will have to attend the training course as police will be looking after pedestrians.

“Thankfully the community and councillors have gone to great effort and we will be able to afford that now. We’re delighted to have reached a positive conclusion with the blessing of all the authorities. I’m just glad common sense has prevailed now.”

The Nutters’ dance traditionally takes place on Easter Saturday over a 12-hour period, taking in various pubs and locations in Bacup.

Around 800 dancers and spectators are expected to turn out for this year’s event on March 30, including a group of 25 tourists from Finland.

Maz O’Connor awarded prestigious BBC Fellowship to work with the English Folk Dance and Song Society


Maz O'Connor

We are delighted to hear that Maz O’Connor has been given one of 19 prestigious Music Fellowships from the BBC Performing Arts Fund that will enable her to work with the English Folk Dance and Song Society. As the only folk artist to become a Fellow, it is a great achievement for Maz and EFDSS, which has supported her application and will work with Maz for a year to aid her career development.

EFDSS Chief Executive Katy Spicer said: “EFDSS is very excited to be part of the BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowships and be working with Maz O’Connor over the next 12 months. Maz is a highly talented young artist at a stage in her career when this support can really help her to develop both her creative and business skills. It is a wonderful opportunity for both Maz and EFDSS and we are very grateful to the BBC PAF for this award and the opportunities it will bring.”

Maz (BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award Finalist 2013) will be supported by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) over the year to develop her industry profile, have access to rehearsal and performance opportunities and be part of EFDSS’ showcasing programme both in the UK and abroad.

From the BBC:-

“BBC Performing Arts Fund announces winners of its Music Fellowship scheme

The BBC Performing Arts Fund has awarded a total of £190,000 to 19 music organisations across the UK in order to host a bespoke placement opportunity as part of its Music Fellowship scheme.
The Fellowships range from a singer working with Urban Development in East London to an assistant conductor with English Touring Opera; from folk to pop; from Belfast to Exeter and all across the UK.
The selected organisations will host a Fellow, offering an opportunity for motivated
individuals to work under the guidance of professional mentors to develop their skills,
showcase their work and experience the reality of working in the music industry across a wide range of genres.
Successful organisations were able to demonstrate that a Fellowship placement with them would offer significant professional development opportunities for a Fellow, that their placement would be realistic and achievable, and that the selection process they went through to identify the Fellow was fair and transparent.”